Charming Ways to Talk Your Way Out of a Meeting

Have you ever attended a meeting that you felt was not beneficial to you or that you weren’t able to make a contribution toward? You’re not alone. Most everyone has spent some time in a meeting thinking, “I could be doing something productive right now if I wasn’t here.” While you can’t always change how an unproductive meeting is managed, you can change whether or not you attend. Although you won’t be able to get out of every meeting, you can charm your way out of some of them. Try using these three ideas to attend fewer meetings.

Politely Decline. Sometimes you’ll be invited to a meeting but won’t be required to attend. Determine if this meeting will affect you directly, so you’ll know if you really need to attend or if you’ll receive any value from it. If you feel you or your team or company won’t benefit from your attendance, politely decline the invitation so you can spend your time doing something more productive.

Request to Skip It. When you’re on deadline, working on a big project, or just need to catch up on your work, ask your supervisor if you can miss a meeting. Explain to him that you feel you have other priorities that need to be taken care of first and will be more productive by continuing to work. Also, be sure to tell him how you and the department will benefit from your time spent elsewhere and the money that the company can save by you working through the meeting, if that’s the case.

Do Your Part Ahead of Time. When you’re expected to attend a meeting to simply report an update on a project or make some other small contribution, do your work before the meeting, and then decline attending. Send an e-mail to the group containing the information you would report at the meeting. If you need others to take action on something for you, you can also request this in an e-mail or phone call instead of waiting to talk with them at the meeting.

Meetings aren’t productive if you don’t receive any value from them or contribute to them, but you can be more productive if you carefully choose which meetings to attend and which to skip. Try using one of these three techniques the next time you’re asked to attend a pointless meeting. It may surprise you how many unproductive meetings you’ll be able to charm your way out of if you approach them the right way.

Check out these posts for more ways to get more out of your work day.

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